Silvery coins of moonlight shone through the Spanish moss like tinsel from the Cyprus trees. The gurgling of the fetid swamp could have easily been attributable to natural fermentation of natural gases. This, however, was not the case.
His makeshift craft fell apart like so many unrealized dreams. Charlie Barker had underestimated the load and overestimated the capacity of his raft. All had been lost.
The reanimated skeleton had then focused on trudging through the sludge to find a shoreline. Being devoid of flesh and fat, his buoyancy was nil. His advantage, of course, was not needing to refill lung sacks incessantly.
The gurgling increased, heralding the arrival of the skeleton as he broke through the muddy surface. A raven cawed angrily as it was disturbed from its roost. The sludge held thick on the bones of his fingers as it blindly searched for something to grasp.
Then, something grabbed it. Something leathery and nearly as bony as he. A withered old hand yanked him up and onto the banks.
“Be ye dead or live, make no matter. My land yer on,” said an old woman.
Charlie cleaned out his eye sockets to get a better look. A Creole Sòsyè stood before him, hunched over from age. She wore a potato sack dress, spindly legs sticking out resembling those of a chicken.
“Obviously, you’re a woman of taste,” Char said, admiring the surroundings.
“Trespasser! Silver-tongued devil,” the old witch admonished.
“I meant no transgression, ma’am. Or, rather, how shall I address you?”
“I be Adélaïde Rieux. I am no afraid of anything come out of this swamp,” she cursed.
Charlie bowed respectfully. “I can see that, Madame Rieux. Perhaps we could arrange some kind of payment. A passage through your swamp. Maybe even a little time by a warm fire?”
The sòsyè eyed him over. “T’ain’t got no pockets. What can ye offer?”
“I have collected many stories through my travels,” Charlie tempted.
“Got enough of them.”
The old witch smiled a toothless grin. “I could use a bone for a spell I be workin’ on.”
Charlie nodded. He had over a couple hundred. He should be able to spare one little bone.